South Africa: The place of shame, violence and disconnect
- RANJENI MUNUSAMY
- SOUTH AFRICA
- 17 APR 2015 12:51 (SOUTH AFRICA)
Usual Zuma fudge – seems the country is seething with Goodwill towards other Africans.KS
Mail and Guardian
Mail and Guardian
The State Security Agency has been spying on the leader of the already paranoid Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, Joseph Mathunjwa.
The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) was already troubled by personality clashes, regional disputes and rumours of attempts at personal enrichment. But official confirmation that leader Joseph Mathunjwa was under investigation by intelligence services was something akin to a spark in an explosively paranoid environment.
“There was always this thing about people [competing organisation the National Union of Mineworkers, NUM] being agents,” an Amcu shop steward in the platinum belt said this week. “Now the government gives us a piece of paper saying they are going to spy on Joseph, because they think he is a spy … Who do we trust now in our union?”
Amcu split from the ANC-affiliated NUM more than a decade ago, but only shot to prominence in 2012, when more than 40 people died in Marikana during a strike in which Amcu played a pivotal role.
Officially Amcu has shaken off the news of a State Security Agency (SSA) investigation into allegations of Mathunjwa’s involvement in “espionage activities”, announced last week, taking it only marginally more seriously than the general public reaction of perplexed amusement. Speaking anonymously, however, mid-ranking officials this week expressed serious concern about the effect just the existence of such an investigation would have on the work of the union.
Amcu faces key events in the coming months that will set its future course and determine what political effect it will have, including:
Amcu members say there were already divisions on how the union should handle these matters, with sometimes fierce contests about whether Amcu should align itself with the new United Front or the Economic Freedom Fighters, or neither. With spies in the mix, everything becomes a great deal more complicated, including internal democracy.
“If I go against my leadership in a meeting and afterwards they tell people ‘that man is a spy for the government’ I won’t be safe walking home,” a disenchanted shop steward said.
That kind of paranoia is a direct result of a statement by the SSA last week that Mathunjwa, as well as public protector Thuli Madonsela, EFF leader Julius Malema and former DA parliamentary chief Lindiwe Mazibuko, was under investigation on allegations of espionage.
Amcu was a major player in the strike that led to 34 miners being gunned down at Marikana in 2012, which led to a flurry of intelligence interest in the trade union. (Mujahid Safodien, AFP)
“The State Security Agency, working with other departments within the security cluster, will institute an investigation in order to verify and determine the veracity of the allegations made,” the agency said.
The source of the allegations, the SSA said, was “social media platforms” and the blog africainteligenceleaks.wordpress.com.
Despite its name, the website contains not intelligence leaks but conspiracy-laced musings of a user named “Derek” sans anything resembling credible evidence. The site, initially Portuguese, has links to Spanish websites and uses a logo associated with an African studies centre at Michigan State University.
Thanks to badly broken English the site does not quite call Mathunjwa an agent of the CIA (as it does Malema). It does, however, claim that Mathunjwa sought help from Otpor, a Yugoslav organisation credited in part with the overthrow of Slobodan Milosevic, which received United States support in the run-up to that regime change.
Extended belly laugh
These details of the publication, and the content of the allegations themselves, drew an extended belly laugh from a former intelligence officer, who said this week that such an allegation, had it been mailed to the SSA on a piece of paper, would have gone straight to the “crank pile”.
“The job is about analysis, right? First you have to screen out all the nonsense people waste your time with.” Although a junior may be tempted to take everything seriously for fear of missing a real threat, he said, it was the higher-ups’ job to suppress such fears, lest true threats to security slip past while they are swamped with outlandish conspiracy theories.
Intelligence insiders say Amcu was the subject of, at most, mild intelligence interest before August 2012. After the Marikana massacre, with sudden concerns about contagious violence, there was a scramble to establish an intelligence pipeline that could provide early warning. As the immediacy of the threat waned, so did the attempts at monitoring Amcu. Especially on the private front.
“Nobody wants to be caught with blood on their hands,” a person with strong links to private mine security in the Rustenburg area explained.
Put spying accusations in the mix and everything becomes a lot more complicated for Amcu, particularly as it faces wage negotiations and the Farlam commission findings. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)
Like the state, those responsible for managing and securing mines at an operational level developed an intense interest in any inside information about Amcu to be had immediately after the Marikana massacre. But cooler heads realised that intelligence can be a burden. Handle intelligence-gathering badly enough that an informant dies and you can be held responsible; gather intelligence that accurately predicts violence but fails to prevent that violence and you can be held responsible; fail to gather intelligence that predicts violence while trying to do so and you can be held responsible; get caught at any kind of privatised intelligence gathering and suffer at least public embarrassment.
And so private spying dwindled, apparently as the state also focused its attentions elsewhere, such as on the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa).
Before the end of March, Numsa plans to lay a complaint before the inspector general of intelligence – tasked with oversight of the intelligence services – about using state resources to monitor its activities. Confirmation that Amcu is being scrutinised by the same intelligence agencies could strengthen Numsa’s hand.
“If Amcu is being spied on it seems to give credence to Numsa’s allegations that it is also being spied on, as well as suggesting that the political intelligence mandate has widened once again to include organisations involved in lawful advocacy, who get on to the radar because they are considered inconvenient by the political elite,” said Jane Duncan, an academic at the University of Johannesburg and author of the recently published Rise of the Securocrats.
She describes a theoretical effect of political intelligence gathering that mirrors Amcu members’ experiences. “[S]urveillance … sows division and creates confusion within an organisation. It makes activists and unionists suspect one another when asking searching organisational questions.”
But, she says, it can also have the opposite effect, galvanising already democratic organisations into greater transparency, with immediate disclosure of approaches by spies or “suspicious occurrences”.
It can also galvanise civil society. The Numsa complaint shows early signs of becoming a rallying point for civil society organisations long concerned about intelligence interference in their work, and in particular about the interaction between police crime intelligence and community activists.
Over the next year several organisations, such as the Right2Know campaign, plan to challenge the accepted government wisdom that political stability is a matter of national security, and that spying on political groups is thus not only allowed but required.
Meanwhile, not everyone who suspects they have the intelligence services’s attention is entirely dismayed.
“Normally we work on the margins of society; it is often easy to ignore academics who don’t have a major social base or a political constituency,” says Patrick Bond, an overtly left-wing and politically involved academic at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. In 2014 he was one of a string of left-wing academics who suffered strange burglaries and data loss that they suspect, but could never prove, was related to intelligence dirty tricks.
“There’s not much one can do, except assume every email and every phone conversation is vulnerable to interception. But sometimes it backfires, it reaffirms the work you do and you find new energy in that attempt to intimidate.”
Looming wage negotiations in the gold mining sector have provided some evidence of a co-ordinated external threat against the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), but insiders believe increasing paranoia in the union is a result of its own structural weaknesses rather than outside interference.
Members say Amcu has seen increased clampdowns on shop stewards seen as independent, with the biggest effect felt at Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), in the North West, where Amcu enjoys its biggest constituency.
In a recent regional elective conference, Amplats’s crop of shop stewards – seen as the most autonomous in the platinum sector – were left out of the newly appointed regional structure. This, analysts believe, was because union leader Joseph Mathunjwa fears losing control of his creation.
“In particular, he has targeted critical thinkers who are the core leadership within the mines,” says University of Johannesburg-based academic Luke Sinwell. “But he has done so strategically, so that the individuals look bad when in fact they are not … When he started the union, he was organiser, spokesperson, a recruiter. He cannot accept a situation whereby individuals are now beginning to dictate some of the terms upon which the union will operate.”
Mathunjwa is also said to be increasingly paranoid because, beyond being the president of the union, he does not have a constituency of workers to speak of at branch level. That means he could easily be voted out of his position were the party to hold a national elective conference.
“[Ideally] the president of a union must be employed somewhere where a branch of the union exists so that it can remain a member-driven organisation,” says Bheki Buthelezi, a Democratic Left Front volunteer based in Rustenburg.
“All office bearers [should ideally] be mandated members of the union. The exception here would be secretaries and organisers, who are officials employed and paid solely by the union. That’s why he’s always tightly managing branches.”
Mathunjwa responded by SMS to initial attempts to reach him, but ultimately did not comment.
According to Sphamandla Makhanya, an Amplats-based shop steward who was recently expelled from the union, Amcu shop stewards remain by and large untrained, and the union shut down a Democratic Left Front- initiated training project when the union suspected it included political education, going beyond the strict parameters of the Labour Relations Act. Makhanya, who was accused of accepting R8 000 from a secret group of white men to “bring down the union”, has lodged a dispute with the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration for termination of contract without notice. He describes Mathunjwa’s attitude towards his shop stewards as one of “behave or jump”.
With issues confronting the union including a hotly contested Amcu-backed funeral scheme for members, mass meetings are being held behind locked gates. – Kwanele Sosibo
Defence force head Georg Meiring presents an intelligence report to President Nelson Mandela, alleging that the “Front African People’s Liberation Army” was planning to overthrow his government. Those cited as involved included Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and Michael Jackson. The report is officially rubbished as wholly fabricated.
Minister of safety and security Steve Tshwete announces that Cyril Ramaphosa, Mathews Phosa and Tokyo Sexwale are under investigation about an alleged plot to overthrow then-president Thabo Mbeki. No substantial evidence is ever presented and Tshwete eventually apologises to all three.
National Prosecuting Authority director Bulelani Ngcuka is dramatically “outed” as having been a spy for the apartheid government. An inquiry by retired Judge Joos Hefer finds no evidence that the allegations against Ngcuka are true.
Businessman Saki Macozoma discovers that he is under surveillance. His complaints lead to an investigation that uncovers Project Avani, a counter-intelligence operation exploring foreign involvement in ANC succession. Avani “discovers” two conspiracies against the government: a Xhosa faction opposed to Zulu leadership of the country and white reactionaries in politics, the media and the Scorpions. Although easily proven to be fabricated, emails supposedly intercepted during the investigation are initially believed by officials as senior as Kgalema Motlanthe, and ultimately see the departure of intelligence officials only slightly less senior.
The Special Browse Mole Report, prepared by the Scorpions anti-corruption unit, is leaked. The report alleges a conspiracy to overthrow the administration of Thabo Mbeki in favour of Jacob Zuma – possibly in a military coup – involving ANC military veterans in the defence force, Angola and Libya, among others. The report mixes truth with fantasy and is dismissed, as are officials involved in its creation.
Intelligence officials start monitoring the National Prosecuting Authority and the Scorpions, in part it seems as a result of the Browse Mole Report. Later that year they record conversations around the timing of reintroducing criminal charges against Jacob Zuma. Two years later these “spy tapes” are cited as the basis for a decision to discontinue the Zuma prosecution again.
Suspended and arrested police crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli apparently sends a “ground cover intelligence report” to Zuma; Mdluli later claims his signature was faked. The report alleges that a group including Cabinet ministers Sexwale and Fikile Mbalula were conspiring with others inside the ANC to unseat Zuma that December. Those named angrily dismiss the report as a work of fiction.
Suspended Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi releases a report he says leaders in the union federation had circulated. The report claims Vavi’s political ambitions had him working with organisations in the United States in a bid to topple the government, and cited him as responsible for everything from xenophobic violence to the Marikana massacre. Supposed co-conspirators include deputy president Ramaphosa and Sexwale. – Phillip de Wet
Mail and Guardian
Thuli Madonsela, Julius Malema, Lindiwe Mazibuko, and Joseph Mathunjwa have refuted claims that they are spies.
Spy claims against Thuli Madonsela, Julius Malema, Lindiwe Mazibuko and Joseph Mathunjwa were dismissed as rubbish, according to their comments published by Beeld on Friday.
“A grade nine pupil could see it is rubbish,” said public protector Thuli Madonsela, after the State Security Agency (SSA) issued a statement on Thursday saying it was probing spying claims against the four.
SSA spokesperson Brian Dube said allegations against them led the agency to africainteligenceleaks.wordpress.com, and other social media platforms.
Madonsela said she would lodge a formal complaint against the SSA and ask it to withdraw the statement.
She said it was “interesting” that it surfaced days before President Jacob Zuma answered questions in Parliament.
Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema said: “I have never heard such madness in my life … Those people are clowns. Our biggest problem is that our ‘intelligence’ is not intelligent.”
Mathunjwa, president of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), said it was “rubbish” and a “waste of state resources” to investigate such allegations.
Mazibuko, former Democratic Alliance parliamentary leader who is studying at Harvard, tweeted: “It’s pretty embarrassing that a SA cabinet minister would issue a press statement responding to a false blog post from the lunatic fringe” followed by a “sad face” emoticon.
Claims include that the CIA in Langley, US, has a file on Mazibuko saying she is trying to organise a “Pretoria version of the Arab spring”. – Sapa
Mail and Guardian
The president was in top form, from “commending” Julius Malema and calling Mangosuthu Buthelezi the “voice of reason”, to giving a history lesson.
Going from sombre to funny to analytical – and even fitting in a history lesson in his 80 minute speech – President Jacob Zuma had MPs nodding, shaking their heads or clapping loudly as he delivered his reply to the State of the Nation Address debate.
The president even took time out to commend Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema for making valid points during the debate – considering they had not been there, a dig at Malema and his MPs, referring to them being thrown out of Parliament before the State of the Nation Address.
Addressing Malema’s concerns on part-time workers and labour brokers, Zuma said his concerns have been resolved.
“In terms of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act and the Labour Relations Acts as amended, all workers will be employed permanently. Temporary work contracts will not exceed three months, as honourable [Edwin] Makue also pointed out. In addition honourable members, the deputy president [Cyril Ramaphosa] will continue to lead the Nedlac [National Economic Development and Labour Council] dialogue relating to a national minimum wage.”
In his debate to the State of the Nation Address on Tuesday, Malema said workers in hotels, restaurants, mining and construction sectors and retail shops did not enjoy the Freedom Charter as only a few had permanent jobs.
The Land Holdings Bill
Addressing some of the concerns raised by opposition parties over the Land Holdings Bill and the restriction of foreign ownership, Zuma said it only applied to agricultural land.
“It does not affect those foreign nationals who are planning to buy homes or residences. We are taking these actions precisely because the fate of too many is in the hands of too few. We are keenly aware of the contribution of the country’s hard working farmers to the economy and food security. However, the effective participation of the previously excluded black majority in agriculture and food production will only occur meaningfully, when they have access to land and the means to work it.
“An inclusive and scientific process will be used to assess the situation in different commodities and in different localities, so as to make sure that nothing is done that will prejudice food security in the country.”
Supply chain management
In response to Congress of the People leader Mosiuoa Lekota’s concerns over supply chain management in government, Zuma said a centralised supplier database will be phased in from April.
“Once fully functional, this will replace the six hundred or so supplier databases that currently exist. The system will offer a quick and more effective mechanism for verifying supplier information, such as their BEE status, tax certificates and the like. These are factors that currently give rise to negative audit outcomes for departments.
The economic cluster departments will work with the National Treasury further to explore practical and effective mechanisms of using state procurement to give practical expression to the National Development Plan and our socioeconomic objectives, including supporting SMMEs [small, medium and micro enterprises] and cooperatives.”
Buthelezi: ‘The voice of reason’
In the middle of his delivery, the president took time out to thank Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi for always being the voice of reason when MPs are heckling each other.
“You sometimes resemble a father figure to us … It’s always good to have senior citizens around,” he said to Buthelezi, who took a bow from his seat.
Quality education a priority
Zuma said improving the quality of education and training remained a priority to government.
“Progress is being made to steadily improve outcomes in the basic education sector. We believe we have the right formula at last and that results in all grades will continue to steadily improve.
“The white paper for post-school education and training provides for the establishment of community education and training colleges that will primarily target youth and adults who did not complete schooling or who have never attended school.
The process of identifying nine community education and training colleges for piloting in 2015 has been completed. This initiative will be implemented in collaboration with local authorities, Sector Education and Training Authorities, community organisations and business. This is in addition to the re-opening of teacher and nursing colleges.”
A history lesson on colonialism
He reassured Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Mulder that no one was chasing Afrikaner compatriots away from the country. This after Mulder, in his response to the State of the Nation Address, expressed concern over Zuma’s 103rd ANC party celebrations speech, where he stated that the problems in the Western Cape started with the arrival of Jan van Riebeeck.
After delivering a history lesson on colonialism and the arrival of Jan van Riebeeck and the Eastern Cape wars – while pointing out it was in the history books – Zuma told Mulder that South Africa belonged to all who live in it.
Mail and Guardian
EFF MPs have been suspended from Parliament without pay for disrupting proceedings when they shouted “pay back the money” at the president.
The ANC said it welcomed the suspension of the Economic Freedom Fighter (EFF) MPs, which was recommended by the powers and privileges committee following the fracas in Parliament on August 21.
“The office of the ANC chief whip [Stone Sizani] welcomes the adoption [on Thursday night] of the report and the recommendations of the powers and privileges committee that conducted a hearing into allegations of misconduct by 20 EFF Members of Parliament,” spokesman Moloto Mothapo said in a statement.
“All the 20 MPs were found guilty of contempt of Parliament for their participation in the highly disruptive and disorderly conduct on 21 August 2014.”
The EFF had threatened court action should the National Assembly approve a recommendation by the committee to suspend its parliamentarians without pay, including EFF leader Julius Malema.
‘Pay back the money’
The 20 members of the Economic Freedom Fighters heckled President Jacob Zuma during question time. They shouted “pay back the money” and effectively halted proceedings. Mothapo said their conduct obstructed the House from performing its scheduled business.
He said the ANC agreed with the decision of the National Assembly that the MPs’ conduct constituted contempt of Parliament in terms of the Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act and therefore warranted the harshest sanctions permitted in the act.
“Various sanctions have thus been imposed upon the 20 MPs in accordance with the categories of charges for which they were found guilty. The first group, which includes the ringleaders, [EFF leader] Julius Malema and [EFF chief whip] Floyd Shivambu, has been suspended for a period of 30 days without remuneration.
“The second group has been suspended for a period of 14 days without remuneration. The third group was ordered to apologise to the House and fined an equivalent of a 14 days’ salary and any allowance payable to them,” said Moloto.
He believed the decision would withstand the test of any court of law.
“It is for this reason that we believe the institution should not be fazed by the desperate and legally unsound court challenge threatened by the EFF. We are confident that the case would be thrown out the same way their initial attempt to interdict the hearing from taking place was discarded by the Western Cape High Court on 29 September.”